Monday, September 27, 2010

The Free Life

Magnet # 352:  Old Man of the Mountain, New Hampshire Motto

Material:  Plastic

Purchased By:  Me

I've been so busy with current events and anniversaries that I've neglected to finish up recapping my recent trip to New England.  So, with one exception, I'll spend the rest of this month wrapping that up.  I want to be all finished by the time October gets here (and you may already know why).

After finishing up in Salem, I headed up to Concord, New Hampshire.  There, I stayed at the Best Western Concord Inn & Suites, a place I would book again.  I headed downtown to have a look at the Museum of New Hampshire History.  It was fairly simple, but it did have a replica of a forest ranger station that visitors could climb up to.  The views from it were pretty impressive.  When I was done there, I went on the hunt for magnets on Main Street.  There, I was surprised to find three pretty good places for souvenirs - two drugstores, and one gift shop.  All of the prices were very reasonable - I don't think I paid above three bucks at any of them.  Later, the clerk at my hotel recommended I try the nearby Beefside for dinner, which despite its name, has plenty of seafood on its menu.  He even told me that they'd give me ten percent off if I showed them my room key, and it was nice to get the discount.  I tried their lobster roll, and it was very good.  The restaurant itself was laidback, decorated with an aged wood look, and had reasonable prices.  It appeared to me that mostly locals go there, and it's definitely worth checking out if you're in the area. 

The next day, I headed back to Main Street to have a look at the New Hampshire State House.  There weren't any organized tours available, but I was able to do a self-guided tour and add another capitol building to the list of ones I've visited.  From there, I drove around Concord a little and stopped by the McAuliffe-Shephard Discovery Center just for a moment.  Heading north from the city, I also dropped by the idyllic Canterbury Shaker Village and the Tanger Outlet Mall just off the road in Laconia.  I continued north, driving into the White Mountains for which the state is known.  In the town of Lincoln, I checked out Clark's Trading Post, a roadside attraction filled with performing bears, Chinese acrobats, and plenty of souvenirs.  And just up the road, I stopped by Franconia Notch State Park, where the state's most famous landmark, the Old Man of the Mountain, was located until its collapse in 2003.  I traveled to the top of Cannon Mountain via its Aerial Tramway and was treated to some pretty spectacular views.  Once on the ground, I headed off toward Vermont, having made the most of my time in New Hampshire.  And though I cut through the state once more before my trip was over, I didn't really have time to visit anymore of it.  But I certainly good a good taste of it while I was there.

New Hampshire's motto "Live Free or Die" is certainly one of the most memorable of any state.  It dates back to a toast written by General John Stark, a Revolutionary War hero who was born in New Hampshire.  As he was not well enough to read it himself, he sent it in 1809 to be read at an anniversary reunion of the victory he helped achieve at the Battle of Bennington.  The striking words have been embraced by the state ever since.  Nowadays, New Hampshire continues to embrace living free - it's one of only four states in the Union that are completely sales tax free.  And that made shopping there a pretty fun experience - I love it when what I see is what I pay!  All in all, I enjoyed the free time I spent there, and could see myself returning there in the future.

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